A lot of people like to think that the world’s drinkers are categorized into two groups: those who drink beer and those who prefer hard liquors. If you’re one of these people, you’re missing out. There’s a whole spectrum of drinks in between and we’re going to talk about some of them today: cocktails.
Cocktails are alcoholic drinks, typically based on a distilled liquor and combined with other beverages and ingredients such as fruits. They can be as simple as a classic martini with just four ingredients, or as complex as the Commonwealth, which has an ingredient list filled with a whopping 71 items!
If you’re just starting out and just looking to know which cocktails to order from your local restaurant, here are three of the most popular cocktails to order. Any bartender worth his salt will know these recipes by heart, but we’ve compiled this list to help you sound like a pro when you put in your order.
Made popular by film characters such as James Bond, Martinis are timeless drinks made of a base of gin or vodka, diluted with vermouth and ice, and topped with a garnish like an olive or lemon peel. While that in itself is simple enough, here are a few terminologies that will let the bartender understand your preference.
Up or rocks – To serve the martini “up” means that it will come in a tall martini glass, while “rocks” means that it will be poured in a tall glass with ice.
Shaken or stirred – Like the name suggests, to order it “shaken” means the gin will be agitated inside a cocktail mixer with ice before being poured on your glass. This produces a colder cocktail while a “stirred” cocktail will be a smoother drink.
Wet or dry – A “wet” martini means more vermouth while “Dry” means a little less. Some people even prefer their drinks “naked”, which means no vermouth at all. If this sounds relative, that’s because it is. If you are starting out, it’s best to start with a four parts vermouth to one part gin. You can make slow adjustments from there to suit your preferences.
In case you were wondering, James Bond’s classic drink was a vodka martini, shaken and not stirred.
The margarita is a summer workhorse. It is made of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice with salt often lined on the rim of the glass. It is usually served in three ways: on the rocks (shaken with ice), frozen (blended with ice), or straight up (no ice). The drink is traditionally served in a margarita glass but can be seen consumed in everything from pint glasses to champagne coupes. According to the International Bartenders Association, the standard ratio for margaritas is ten parts tequila, four parts orange liqueur, and three parts fresh lime juice. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you can also ask your bartender to add some agave syrup.
As its name suggests, the Moscow Mule traces its origins from Russia but was created in the United States because of a chance meeting between three businessmen whose prospects were not looking bright. According to legend, entrepreneur John Martin took a gamble and purchased Smirnoff for about $14,000 in the 1930s, but was having trouble selling vodka in the United States. Supposedly, Martin had a chance meeting with bar owner Jack Morgan in his bar, the Cock ‘n’ Bull in Los Angeles, and had the idea to mix their products. Meanwhile, another entrepreneur, Sophie Berezinskie, the daughter of a copper manufacturer in Russia was also having trouble selling some 2,000 copper mugs. Thanks to these three, we have the popular Moscow mule served (usually) in a copper mug.
If it hasn’t been clear enough, a Moscow Mule combines vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice in a copper mug. Worried about copper poisoning? Don’t worry—any other type of mug or glass will work as well.
There’s almost no limit to what can constitute a cocktail. However, these three basic cocktails are a surefire way to get started without being overwhelmed by the great number of choices. Work your way up these three choices, see what you like, and begin experimenting. Try to keep it in moderation!
Looking for a local coffee shop with good food and beer? Sip Coffee & Beer combines the amenities of a family restaurant with live music in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. Visit us today!